One of the most exciting things about Busk Break is revisiting performers over the years. Some performers start off stilted and awkward, borderline terrified of playing on the streets and only agreeing to be recorded after a heavy bribe in their empty tip jars. A year later, those same musicians have often evolved into confident, charismatic, corner-owning rock stars. That doesn’t always happen, of course. In some cases, there wasn’t much that needed improvement in the first place. That was definitely true if F.J.K.
I first met F.J.K. in the pre-video days of Busk Break (the spring and summer of 2010), and his performance persona was already well established. He was confident enough, if a little awkward in casual conversation. He was seemingly ambivalent about being recorded, but perfectly happy to take my money. He played an original, “If You End Up Broke,” which is easily one of the best songs I recorded in 2010.
A year later, in the summer of 2011, I ran into him again. Although we’d only talked briefly during the 2010 recording, he remembered me clearly. He was friendly enough, but retained that detached attitude to being recorded. He was fine with being recorded, of course, but asked if I’d buy him a coffee inside Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe rather than tipping him.
That $1.75 coffee bought me two songs: A cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rex’s Blues” and his original song “I Know You Knew.” It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.
Here’s “I Know You Knew.”
And here’s his wonderful cover of “Rex’s Blues.”